'Starting Point' From Deficit Panel Co-Chairs Ignites Debate
by Scott Bittle
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who are co-chairing President Obama's deficit commission, say the plan they put out yesterday is a "starting point" and they sure did start something, judging from the reaction today. It's important to remember that this isn't the actual deficit commission plan; it's just a basis for discussion for the panel, which is to vote December 1 on its recommendations. So far Bowles and Simpson are speaking for themselves, with no assurance of getting backing from a majority of the other commission members, Congress or the White House.
So why bother talking about it at all? Because the concrete details of this proposal are spurring an argument that this country needs to have: an argument over what it takes, what it really takes, to keep the federal budget on track and control the national debt. That debate needs to be about making choices and putting values to work in the way we spend our money: What's fair? What's important? Who pays? And what are we willing to do?
A good place to start is Fiscal Future Daily, the new blog launched as part of the nonpartisan Choosing Our Fiscal Future initiative from Public Agenda and the National Academy of Public Administration. We sum up the deficit debate from a wide range of views, put it in context, and focus on moving the debate forward.
Today's edition of Fiscal Future Daily tracks the fierce reaction to the Bowles-Simpson plan, and you can check out our archive of previous editions as well. You can also keep up with the latest with Fiscal Future's mobile phone apps, our Facebook page, @FiscalFuture on Twitter, and at OurFiscalFuture.org.